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Medium NBA Nostalgia Opinion Sports

Michael Jordan’s Performance as a Wizard Was Far Better Than You Remember

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The following is an excerpt from Christopher Pierznik’s new book In Defense Of… Supporting Underappreciated Artists, Athletes, Actors, and Albums, in which the author defends and celebrates individuals, teams, and projects that were unfairly maligned or misunderstood from the world of music, sports, TV & film. It can be purchased in both paperback and Kindle.

It was the perfect ending.

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Week in Review

Week in Review (November 13, 2015)

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It’s felt like a weird week.

Categories
NBA Sports

Knicks Fans Owe Phil Jackson an Apology

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As a lifelong fan of Philadelphia sports teams, I’ve seen more than my share of unpopular draft choices. Of course, the one everyone remembers is a small segment of the fan base booing the selection of Donovan McNabb with the second pick in 1999. In recent years, the narrative has shifted to make it seem as if the fans hated McNabb personally or that the booing had a racial undertone, but that’s simply not the case. The fans – including me – desired Ricky Williams and believed he would change the direction of the franchise. McNabb, for all of his flaws, took the Eagles to 5 NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. He and Andy Reid turned the franchise around. The fans – we – were wrong.

I was reminded of the McNabb choice in June when the proud but lowly New York Knicks chose Kirstaps Porziņģis with the fourth pick:

Look at those reactions. Porziņģis is 7’3, white, skinny, and from Latvia, so everyone immediately assumed he would be another project. A stiff. A European Shawn Bradley.

Here’s the problem: none of them had done their homework. It’s not like Phil Jackson was reaching with the pick. The kid could play. The Lakers nearly chose him with the second pick. He wowed everyone in his pre-draft workout:

This is why listening to fans is asinine. Most have no idea what they’re talking about, nor should they. They don’t have access to millions of dollars of tools and research and scouts that are available to team executives. They have their own careers on which they should be focusing and the only thing they know about most incoming players is what they’ve seen during March Madness or what Skip Bayless yells at them.

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It’s still very early and Knicks fans have a tendency to make huge judgments based on a small sample size (remember Linsanity?). He’s going to struggle. He’s going to get pushed around. But he’s only 20. He’s going to get better. And maybe, one day, he’ll earn the Dirk Nowitzki comparison.

Until then, just enjoy moments like this.

I was living near Philadelphia in 1993 when the 76ers drafted Shawn Bradley. I’ve seen Shawn Bradley. I know Shawn Bradley. We knew it was an awful choice. Kristaps Porziņģis is no Shawn Bradley.

Tweet your apologies to @PhilJackson11.


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Categories
Opinion

Unpopular Pop Culture Opinions

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I feel like I’ve always fallen outside of the mainstream. Even as a child, I knew that many of my tastes were not in line with the majority. Often, my opinion is the unpopular one.

Categories
Week in Review

Week in Review (October 23, 2015)

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I’m going into Manhattan for a close friend’s birthday party tomorrow night. I’ve lived here for over a year and I’m only a half-hour train ride from Penn Station, but I still have only gone into NYC a handful of times. It’s weird.

Categories
Greatness NBA

Best of Penny Hardaway

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Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was a prototype for the NBA superstar of the ’90s. He was a combination of Magic – a tall point guard with vision who could handle the rock – and Michael – he could drive the lane and throw it down over you.

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NBA

Shawn Kemp Was a Destroyer of Worlds

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The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

– Lao Tzu, Te Tao Ching

The mid-’90s Sonics never won the chip, but in fairness, they were victims of some horrible luck. In 1994, they lost to a really good Denver Nuggets team in the first occurrence of an 8-seed beating a 1-seed and then ran threw the West two years later only to run into MJ’s ’96 Bulls.

The squad had Gary Payton and some other decent players including Detlef Schrempf and an aging Sam Perkins, but their MVP was undoubtedly Shawn Kemp. Kemp was more than a beast. He was big but agile. Powerful but quick. Explosive but serene.

And he made posters out of plenty of people. It was unsustainable, his decline was inevitable. But for a few brief years, Shawn Kemp terrorized the NBA.

So take the next ten minutes and fifty seconds to bask in glory of The Rain Man.


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Categories
Documentaries NBA Sports

“Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals” [2010]

HBO Sports documentary on how the rivalry of Magic Johnson & Larry Bird shaped modern basketball and launched the modern NBA.

Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Categories
Greatness NBA

“Hey Jordan, Pick on Someone Your Own Size!”

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One of my favorite Michael Jordan stories (of which there are thousands), as told by Karl Malone:

Categories
NBA

The Biggest NBA Draft What Ifs

How different would the Association had looked if different decisions had been made?

2007 NBA Draft Portraits